We have all been there.
A family member, friend or close work colleague experiences the death of a loved one. Now what? What do we say or do? We may attend the funeral or Shiva and assume we have done our part in being a support, but the mourning process takes longer than most people think. We may feel overwhelmed with our own feelings and be confused with what to do. How can we be there for someone who is bereaved? Although the grief and mourning process is unique to each individual, there are some ways you can be of help.
Suggestions for helping the bereaved
- Reach out well after the Shiva is over; Mourning is a long, complicated process.
- It’s ok to mention the name of the loved one; the person is often thinking of them anyway.
- Offer concrete kinds of help, e.g. laundry, meals, carpool, groceries, and babysitting.
- Listen to the mourner’s experience; don’t talk about yours.
- Anticipate that the first anniversaries, birthdays and holidays without their loved one can be difficult; Ask how they might like to spend that day.
- Avoid pat or cliché answers such as “It’s for the best. He’s no longer suffering.” However well-intentioned these are, they are often experienced as painful by the bereaved.
- Learn about grief and mourning. Some suggestions of books are on our website.
- Your Presence is the best present you can give.
By utilizing these suggestions, you can be better prepared to be there for the bereaved in your life. You can also suggest that they contact JCFS Chicago to speak with the Outreach and Bereavement specialist, Elizabeth Siegel Cohen at 847.745.5404 for information on bereavement counseling, groups and classes in their area.